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Tokyo Olympics Hopeful Changes Tactics After Coronavirus Delays Games

Former Ohio State runner Julia Rizk hopes to qualify for Tokyo Olympics
Debbie Holmes
/
WOSU
Former Ohio State runner Julia Rizk hopes to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic left many athletes disappointed. One Central Ohio native, however, is taking the news in stride.

“I think it’s smart that they’ve made a decision now,” says Blacklick native Julia Rizk. “There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding the Tokyo Olympics and I know athletes are trying to keep their heads up.”

The International Olympic Committee announced this week that the Tokyo games will now take place from July 23-August 8, 2021. It's the first time in Olympic history that the games have been postponed.

When she ran for The Ohio State University, Rizk won the 2019 NCAA mile with a time of 4:37.63.

Now 23, she hopes to try out for the 800-meter race. 

“I have to run 1:59.5 in the 800 meters to qualify for the Olympics, that’s the Olympic standard, and I hope to run for Egypt. I think personally I would have a better shot at doing that,” Rizk says.

Rizk's father was born in Egypt. If she qualifies for the Olympics, she would have to obtain her Egyptian citizenship to compete for the country. But she says the Olympic trials for the U.S. are much more competitive than for Egypt, which has fewer athletes.

Normally, Rizk trains near her new home in Arlington, Va., where she'd been working out with Olympic hopefuls in other countries such as Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria and France. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, though, her training facility with Under Armour shut down. 

Back at her family home in Blacklick, Rizk is adjusting her routine.

“Right now, I’m doing more base training, so longer runs, not as fast,” Rizk says. “I’m not going to be putting spikes on as often. I’m just trying to get some good long tempo runs in right now. And it’s very easy especially when tracks are closed and I can just go outside and do it on the road.”

Rizk says she's actually more optimistic about accomplishing her Olympic dream now that she has more time to prepare.

“It definitely helps my chances to kind of wait another year to get some good training under my belt and be able to race some good races against more great athletes,” Rizk says.

She's still waiting to hear whether some of the elite races will be rescheduled.

“We just take it day by day and week by week and hope that we are able to at least do some races maybe later this summer,” Rizk says.